On our recent visit to Rajasthan, we stayed in Udaipur for 4 days and one of those days we devoted to visiting Kumbhalgarh. As we had heard a lot about Kumbhalgarh fort and it’s walls. So, we were quiet excited to visit here.
The Udaipur – Kumbhalgarh highway
Post breakfast, we started our trip from Udaipur around 10am in the morning. We hired a cab from our hotel in Udaipur for this day trip. Also, this day trip included a visit to the infamous Jain temple of Ranakpur, after a visit to Kumbhalgarh fort. Although, the total distance from Udaipur to Kumbhalgarh is only about 85km. However, the road is mostly single lane. Thus, vehicles from both the sides use this single lane to commute. Thus, often one vehicle has to slow down to give way to the other one coming from opposite side. So, ideally this distance should be covered in max of 1.5 hrs. But it took us a little over 2.5 hrs to reach here. Nevertheless, the scenic route more than makes up for the time lost in travel
The great walls of Kumbhalgarh fort
The forts of Rajasthan are very strategically located. As a testimony, you won’t get a glimpse of the Kumbhalgarh fort until you are quiet inside it’s radar. We reached the fort around 12:30pm. As soon as we were out of our vehicle, the majestic walls of the fort immediately held our attention. No doubt they are fondly called “The Great Walls of India“. Actually, you can walk amidst these walls to a certain extent. They are broad enough that a full size horse cart can easily run on them.
Into the Kumbhalgarh fort
We took our tickets and entered through the main entrance gate that hovers like a giant and makes the visitors feel like tiny bubbles. As you step inside the fort, on your left hand side lies the main fort. And, on the right hand side lies a few temples. Also, there is a light and sound show held in the evening, on the grounds near the temple on right hand side of the fort. Finally, in the center, just near the entrance door is an info board with details about the fort engraved on it.
The guide board
Here’s an excerpt from the guide board that you come across near the entrance :
“Attributed to Rana Kumbha, this fort was built between 1443 – 1458 AD under supervision of famous architect Mandan. It is believed that the fort was built over the remains of the earlier structure associated to Jain Prince Samprati of the second century BC. This fort is defended by a series of Bastions at regular intervals. Entered through AARET POL, HALLA POL and HANUMAN POL from the south one can reach to the RAM POL and VIJAY POL, the main entrance of the fort. The palatial complex at the top of the fort is approached through BHAIRON POL, NIMBU POL, PAGHRA POL. There is another entrance on the east known as DHANIBATTA which connects mewar from marwar region. Important brahmanchial and jain shrines within the fort are VEDI TEMPLE, NEELKANTHA MAHADEV TEMPLE, CHARBHUJA TEMPLE, GANESHA TEMPLE, BAVAN DEVRIS, PITALIYA SHAH TEMPLE, PARSHVNATH TEMPLE, GOLERAO GROUP OF TEMPLES and other miniature shrines. The other important buildings are the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, ruins of the kumbh palace , badal mahal, royal chhatris, baoris and water reservoirs.”
Towards the left, just at the foot of the fort structure is a small food outlet. Since we were not very hungry at this point, we decided to take some juice and water bottles from here on our onwards journey. There was an old lady sitting on the foot steps, chatting merrily with the owner of the food outlet. Also, she acted as our temporary guide, showing us the way to start off our journey towards the fort. (Since, the fort is so huge, we were feeling a little lost deciding were to start off from).
Starting with the temples
Just adjacent to the food outlet stands the first temple. This is a Ganesha temple. Alas, we had arrived post noon and hence the temple was closed to visitors. Nevertheless, we still climbed the stairs and went atop to admire the architecture and the beautiful dome of the small temple. Then we trekked further up the stairs besides the temple, to arrive at the entrance gate of yet another temple, the Lakshmi Narayana Temple. However, this one was completely locked, so, we had to satisfy ourselves from outside only.
Trek towards the fort
From here you can begin a proper trek towards the main fort. There is a beautiful cobbled pathway that leads uphill through different sections of the fort. On one side of the pathway runs the majestic wall of the fort. In this wall, you will see holes made to hold the guns and barrels in the past. Adjacent to the wall, at times, you will also encounter ruins of some structures that were once part of the fort.
Almost every turn has a couple of benches. Hence you can rest your feet before you climb further. (And we made ample use of these!!) Even the little one loved the trekking and then resting on these rusty benches it seems.
Also, there is a POL or gate after every few meters, guarding the entrance to the next section of the fort. Further up, you will reach a big courtyard covered with green grass. At one end of this courtyard lies a building housing several of the “topes” (Canons) that once decorated and protected the fort across its walls.
Birthplace of Maharana Prathap
Next, crossing the ruins of the fort, admiring its architecture, you will soon arrive at the birth place of Maharana Prathap. However, the view of the aravali hills and forests beyond, as seen from this point in the fort,are sure to hold you here for a while. Since, it is stunningly green and scenic as far as you can see. From here, you will see layers of green mountains stretching far and wide beyond the fort of Kumbhalgarh , till the point your human eye will be capable of seeing.
Next, arrive at Badal Mahal. Badal Mahal is one of the most prominent structures of Kumbhalgarh fort. The palace is built in a simple and prominent architectural style. With rooms standing on all sides of a simple courtyard. However, every section (a set of rooms) has a very narrow flight of stairs leading to the next floor. I felt it a little bemusing. I was climbing a flight of stair, forgetting which one I exactly used. And was getting down the other. In short, it very much feels like a bhool bhulaiya ( a maze where you can easily loose yourself).
From atop the first floor of Badal Mahal, again you will find a mesmerizing view of the Aravalis beyond. Also, there seems to be a natural AC at work here. As, you will get ounces of fresh air blowing off the jharokhas (windows) constructed on this side of the palace.
Next, crossing some ruined parts of the palace, you will arrive at a temple with a very dark room. Here, we met the same old lady who had earlier greeted us near the restaurant at the entrance. Here, we discovered, is housed the temple of Kul-devi of King Kumbh. The old lady is in-charge or caretaker of the temple. With great enthusiasm, she tells the visitors about the significance of this temple. Also, she helps the visitors offer their prayers here. It seems, the king and his kins dare not leave for anywhere outside of the kingdom without paying a visit to the Goddess in this temple. Thus, it is the temple of utmost importance within the fort premises.
The Akhand Deep
The inside of the temple where the deity is placed, is quiet dark with just a diya (a wicker oil lamp) glowing into the darkness. You will be stumbled to discover that this is an “akhand deep” (a wicker lamp that is never allowed to go off. It is refilled with oil before it can run out of supply). As per the old lady, this lamp has been burning continuously for the past 700 plus years!!
Parshwanath and Neelkanth Temple
After offering our own prayers at the ancient temple of Kul Devi of the kind of Kumbhalgarh, we next headed towards the other side of main entrance. Towards this side are located the Parshwanath and Neelkanth Temple. But, it was already afternoon. So, we decided to first have our lunch. Thus, we had lunch at the same small restaurant near entrance. Although, the food here is good, it is overrated. As the owner knows very well that there is no other option for visitors, he is cashing on it. Anyways, we had quick bytes of hot Parathas and then we headed for the temples on the other side.
These temples are bigger than the other ones. Also, they have very nice architecture. Since, they are almost located on a cliff, they can be viewed from far and wide. The temples are quiet renowned in the region. It is said, a wish made here is granted for sure 🙂 . From these temple premises you can see all around the valley. Although, there is very less population on this side. However, the greenery extending far and wide once again soothes the eyes.
From here, we decided to head back out of the fort . Although it was quiet hard to leave the premises. Even after visiting most of the important parts, the trip still felt incomplete. One thing that I very much wanted to do but couldn’t is to climb on those great walls and walk as far off as the terrain would allow…next time for sure…
Tips to visit Kumbhalgarh fort
- Start early from Udaipur. Try to have early breakfast and reach here by 10:30am.
- Carry snacks and if possible lunch as well. There are hardly any food or water options on the way.
- Wear comfortable shoes. There will be lots of walking to be done
- Don’t forget to carry your sunglasses and sunscreen along.
- Carry inside the fort only as much item (food or otherwise) as you are comfortable carrying all the while as there is no option to deposit them anywhere.
- Guided tours at this fort are little costly as the fort is quiet huge. If you go for it, you will definitely enjoy. Or else, you can try exploring on your own. There are enough boards around with details engraved on them.